RIP: The American Manly Man (1776-2010)

Tom Brady Looks Like A Woman

The American Manly Man, known the world over for centuries of bravado and gritty ingenuity, passed away during the Sunday evening season finale of HBO’s “True Blood”. He was 234.

His death was confirmed by American pop culture. The cause of death is still under investigation, and the U.S. Department of Health is awaiting the results of toxicology testing. Girls’ obsession with vampires, Justin Bieber, and the Snuggie are believed to be preliminary suspects.

The death of the American Manly Man was not wholly unexpected. On the contrary, he had been in declining health since the bell-bottom Disco Seventies, and his condition further deteriorated during the Back Street Boys – N’Sync Boy Band days of the late 1990s. He suffered two more setbacks when 1) Adriana Lima wed Marko Juric, a guy averaging 2.6 points a night off the bench for the Memphis Grizzlies, and 2) Megan Fox married the guy from “90210” this June.

Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green

Future historians will note the American Manly Man found himself embattled from all sides, circa 2010. Economically, the U.S. male unemployment rate remained perniciously high during the lingering Great Recession. Men lost 75% of the eight million total jobs. Politically, Arnold Schwarzenegger felled T-1000 robots, predators, and even married a Kennedy. Yet the Terminator finally met his match in California’s deficit. FOX News’ political pundit Glenn Beck—or, as he would have you believe, our generation’s Martin Luther King Jr.—cried away over half of his audience.

Academically, there were 3 female Bachelor of Arts graduates for every 2 male grads. No wonder Time Magazine ran an issue every few years asking: do women even need men anymore? Then there’s David Beckham and other sarong-wearing global celebrities who brought Metrosexuality into vogue. Robert Pattinson and the blockbuster “Twilight” franchise did not help matters. Man even ambushed fellow man during the Summer of 2010 with the unfortunate Bros Icing Bros viral phenomenon.

I must confess I have not been spared from the girly contagion. 1) I usually run to Lady Gaga. (She just gets me.) And 2) I went to see “Eat Pray Love” by choice. I must also confess: I kind of liked it. One of my favorite bros can’t wait for the next season of “Gossip Girl.” And my brother went to NYU. But in our defense, this is an age when even the great Tom Brady rocks a Justin Bieber side-sweep haircut.

Indeed, American professional sports have been especially afflicted by the sissy plague. The decade’s most dominating American athletes thrashed the competition racing in spandex (Lance Armstrong) and speedos (Michael Phelps). Once-menacing Pro Bowl defensive ends Warren Sapp and Jason Taylor were seen frolicking on ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars.” America’s top boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. has ducked a fight with an undersized, though speedy Manny Pacquiao for over a year and was recently booked on grand larceny charges for allegedly stealing an iPhone. In basketball, gone is the raw Jordanian anger from today’s prodigies. Unlike Mike, LeBron James couldn’t beat his fellow NBA superstars, so he joined them. This century’s greatest point guard is Canadian (Steve Nash). In baseball, our previously revered sluggers tearfully confessed their records and biceps were the result of performance-enhancing drugs, not natural ability and hard work. The game’s most fearsome masher (Alex Rodriguez) took steroids for three years and poses for photo-shoots like these:

Sadly, ARoid’s narcissistic tabloid preening fit right in with America’s effeminate entertainment culture. Don Draper, the most admired TV man today, hails from the 1960s. And even he is an emotional wreck this season. “American Idol” has been the highest rated show every year since 2004. Half of the Jersey Shore boys have hooked up with Snooki. And the most anticipated Fall show is Stupid $#*I My Dad Says. CBS will inevitably ruin it, but the show’s premise is a boomerang twenty-something who couldn’t find work so he moved back home and tweeted his dad’s misanthropic ramblings.

On Unexpected Financial Windfalls: “Sometimes life leaves a hundred dollar bill on your dresser, and you don’t realize until later that it’s because it f—— you.”

On Hair Loss: “Remember how you used to make fun of me for being bald? … No, I’m not gonna make a joke. I’ll let your mirror do that.”

On Modern Technology: “Son, no one gives a s— about all the things your cell phone does. You didn’t invent it, you just bought it. Anybody can do that.”

Today’s action heroes have been similarly impacted by our cultural impotence. The swaggering Prince of Persia was played by a white guy (Jake Gyllenhaal) faking an English accent. And James Bond—the hero women want and men want to be—was finally slain. Not by Dr. No or Goldfinger, but MGM’s moribund finances. 24’s Jack Bauer clocked out this Spring, and Kiefer Sutherland is not coping well. Sutherland was spotted drunk and shirtless, giggling to himself in a London gutter this April. He was later seen trying to take down pictures in a New York City hotel (again shirtless) this June.

*******

The World’s Manliest Men

But fear not, my fellow emasculated brethren. Here are 5 manly American men who can help us rediscover our mojo (plus, one very cold Russian teenager):

American’s Manliest Man: Gary Faulkner

The sixth time America’s Manliest Man tried to capture Osama Bin Laden lasted all of three seconds. His hang-glider nose-dived and dragged him across jagged rocks. He broke his shoulder and several ribs. Gary tried it again the following year (Attempt #7) a little closer to the water this time. He tore up his shins skidding across the beach and just ditched the glider right there.

To be fair, Gary Faulkner is making progress. The first time he tried to find Osama he bought a boat—even though he had never sailed before—and set out from San Diego harbor without a lifejacket, flares, or food. His plan was to just head West until he hit land and eventually Pakistan. A hurricane had other plans, however, and lashed Faulkner’s boat against the Baja peninsula within days.

Gary Faulkner is our Don Quixote. He’s a 50-year old ex-con with failing kidneys who is probably certifiably insane. Faulkner knows bin Laden has a similar kidney ailment, so he plans to hook himself into Osama’s dialysis machine upon discovery and then escort the villain to Pakistan security forces. Armed with a sword he bought on the Home Shopping Network and an $8 pawnshop knife, he has tried to capture Osama Bin Laden eleven times. He’s been foiled by everything from the Pacific (Attempts #1 & 2) to earthquakes (Attempt #4) to the laws of gravity (Attempts #6 &7) to custom agents (Attempt #8) to the uber-manly not-asking-for-directions (Attempts #9, 10, and 11), yet Faulkner perseveres. He made global news this June when he was arrested for traversing the Pakistan hinterlands by foot (Attempt #11). And he is plotting Attempt #12 for sometime next summer.

2. The American Soldier: America’s bravest men and women have been waging the longest (Afghanistan) and 3rd longest (Iraq) wars in our nation’s history. They fight against a borderless enemy of unprecedented barbarity and cowardice. In an age without The Draft, they selflessly volunteer to fight to keep safe a government and an American public that nearly doesn’t deserve them. (3/3 Americans support the troops, but 2/3 of Americans cannot find Iraq or Afghanistan on a world map.)

Put simply, American servicemen and women are so manly they can cover Lady Gaga in Iraqi war zones:

3. Brett Favre: He’s the John Wayne of our generation and as American as apple pie. Favre’s tale is already the stuff of Ruthian legend. Brett learned football on the alligator-infested mad flats of Mississippi. Brett Favre’s first NFL pass was to… Brett Favre. His first team—the Atlanta Falcons—traded Favre away because they deemed him a trouble-maker who partied too hard. He even held his own in There’s Something About Mary.

Look. If you want pinpoint accuracy, watch Drew Brees. If you want robotic efficiency, might I recommend Peyton Manning. But if you want a rough-and-tumble QB to love for all his virtues and vices, Brett Favre is your man. To air-it-out is human, to forgive is divine. We worship Brett Favre not just because he is a throwback gunslinger with the NFL record for TD passes and passing yards. We empathize with Brett Favre for his misfires too—pain-killer addiction; most interceptions in NFL history, including the weekly what-was-he-thinking pick. We admire Brett Favre because even at age 40 he gets that childish glint in his eye as he dashes down the field after yet another TD bomb.

And then there’s The Streak. Brett Favre has started 286 consecutive games (310 counting playoffs). Sept. 20, 1992 was the last time Brett Favre didn’t start an NFL game. Back then, the first President Bush was trying to stave off a suave Arkansas governor and Ross Perot for re-election. Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was the #1 song. And Miley Cyrus wasn’t even born yet. Favre’s 18 straight years behind center—despite ‘roided up defensive ends, his creaky ankle, and Ray Lewis—cement his status as America’s all-time manliest athlete.

4. Jay-Z: This is a public service announcement: Jay-Z is America’s manliest entertainer. He’s in his 40s, lavishly wealthy ($150 million+), and married to Beyonce, but he’s “still the hardest rapper here.” Born Shawn Carter, he’s the product of a single-mom and the streets of Brooklyn. He once shot his brother for wearing jewelry. Nowadays, the man has sold 40 million albums, racked up 10 Grammys, and his latest smash-hit “Empire State of Mind” became the anthem of New York Yankees.

And Jay-Z isn’t just the King of New York City. He eats like it, too.

5. Barack Obama: I know, I know. Obama is effete. He bowed down to the Japanese Emperor. He hasn’t lived down that Pennsylvania gutter-ball. And we still haven’t seen him get mad.

In spite of all that, Obama has manned up and taken the country on his shoulders in the face of Republicans’ sissy obstructionism and skittish Democrats who want to “run for the hills.” President Obama’s achievements to date are the most sweeping since President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society: $787 billion Stimulus package, tobacco regulation, improving America’s image abroad, credit card consumer rights, healthcare reform, tax cuts for the middle class, Wall Street regulation, etc. Obama has “kept us safe”—the lone barometer of the George W. Bush Presidency and legacy. Most recently, Obama sternly turned “the page” on the Iraq War, a.k.a. our long, 21st Century stalemated answer to the Korean War.

Not to mention, Obama has a wicked 3-pointer.

Top International Manly Man: Andrei

In 2007, a 15-year old Russian boy had enough of his alcoholic dad and ran away from home. Rather than the traditional, stick-out-the-thumb hitchhike, however, Andrei snuck into the local airport and clambered aboard the wing of a Boeing-737 plane for a two-hour flight from Perm to Moscow. Andrei miraculously survived the flight and collapsed onto the Moscow tarmac with acute frostbite upon landing. Rescuers reported Andrei’s limbs were so frozen they could not initially remove his coat and shoes.

Airport security is still uncertain how Andrei climbed onto and then inside the wing unnoticed. And doctors are still baffled how Andrei survived the -58 Fahrenheit flight temperature. But men everywhere can agree Andrei is forever enshrined in the annals of Manly Manliness.

Honorable Mention: The 1980 ‘Miracle’ U.S. Hockey Team, George W. Bush (manly to a fault), Matt Damon, The Designated Driver, The Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man In The World”, Clint Eastwood, Samuel L. Jackson, Chipper Jones, Michael Jordan, Chuck Norris, The Old Spice Guy, Sarah Palin, The People of New Orleans, Adrian Peterson, Brad Pitt in Snatch & Fight Club, U.S. Airways pilot Captain C.B. Sully Sullenberger.

Dishonorable Mention: Aging SNL stars (not named Chevy Chase), Carrot Top, Guys Who Cheat, Guys Who Write LOL or :), Jay Leno, Bernie Madoff, The Notre Dame “Fighting” Irish football team, Brad Pitt in Troy & The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Rollerbladers, Soccer Floppers.

And finally, the Manliest Man Rant Winner: Oklahoma State college football coach Mike Gundy for reminding us all he is a) a man and b) 40:

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